Archive | Blogs in general

Webmasters’ Meeting Agenda for April 10 2009

  • How the sites are put together and fit into the District 6 site
    • How the calendar makes it to the front page, and how to add an appointment to another calendar in Zimbra
    • The role of the front page
    • Common things to have on each school site
      • “About Us” pages
      • Communication (Contact forms)
      • The teachers page and what we can do to make it nicer.
  • The ongoing role of TSS in site maintenance (Individual website tech contacts)
  • If you have questions about your website, here’s who to contact.  We will contact you from time to time with suggestions about improvements to make to your website.
    • Sam: CANS, CAHPS, CRA (Crater)
    • Allan: Scenic, Hanby, Sams
    • Chuck: Richardson, Jewett, CPE, Patrick
    • Richard: District, Food Service, Transportation
  • Pitfalls & Stuff to Avoid
    • Huge photos are bad, cut them down to size.  All digital cameras (are supposed to) produce huge photos, but these need to be reformatted for the web.
    • How to re-format content properly, and why the fact that the web is not a piece of paper (while much of our pre-existing content is designed for paper) can make this tricky.
    • Setting up an editorial process at your school
      • Have someone else check the site’s formatting, grammar, and spelling every once in a while; These are school websites we’re working on, so “TXTish” headlines like “TIMES RUNNING OUT!!!!!” are not acceptable.
      • Have someone else check the whole site for broken or out of place stuff.
      • Empty or useless pages are also a good thing to remove.  It’s better to get rid of incorrect or outdated information than leave it around.  When in doubt, pull it or hide it.
      • Consolidate.  Less is more.  Fewer pages with more information is better than many pages with less information.
  • Scheduled next month’s meeting for May 18th at 9:00am to 11:00am.

In attendance: Michael McCaw (PES), Margaret Corbett, Jamie Thomas (JES), Linda Elder (HMS), Cathy Whalen (Nutrition), Tammera Mullings (SVE), Sara DeVries (CPE)

Not in attendance: Scenic & Richardson

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Simple Syndication Subscribers Savor Spare Seconds

Time Enough At LastWe’ve been fielding questions about WordPress all month.  It’s encouraging to hear how much interest this project is getting.  Recently, we received this question from Mack Lewis at CPE: “How does the RSS feed work?  What’s its purpose?”, so this post is an attempt to answer that question for Mack and others.

RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication” and is an an alternative presentation medium for weblogs.  All WordPress blogs automatically support syndication formats including RSS and Atom.  If you read a lot online, these syndication tools can help you read more online and spend less time doing it.  If you find reading news online cumbersome, a feed reader might just be the best way to get started.

RSS isn’t just for human readers, though.  Since RSS is designed to be handled efficiently by computer programs, there are many sites on the internet dedicated to syndicating news from various sources, called Blog Aggregators.  One of the main benefits to blog authors for providing blog RSS feeds is that aggregators can be a way of advertising your blog to new readers.  If you’re looking to expand your blog’s audience, one way to start is to submit your blog’s feed to those aggregators.

Technology is a rapidly changing field, and it can be difficult to keep up with the latest developments.  I started reading news via RSS in mid-2007 when someone sent me an article/video about Robert Scoble, a popular tech blogger, whose morning routine includes reading over 600 websites via RSS to find material for his own blog.  At the time, I was mostly getting my tech news from Slashdot and Ars Technica.

After watching the video, I decided to give Google Reader (demo video) a try.  So far, it’s been a success.  Instead of browsing to five or six different websites to keep up on what’s new, I can do it all at once.  Right now, I have 120 items in my reading queue from 66 weblogs (including all of the District 6 blogs), and when I sit down to read, I’ll probably spend 20 to 30 minutes skim-reading all of those articles.  When I see something interesting, I open the article in a new tab and move down the “river of news” view to find other interesting items.  Every once in a while, an article from weeks back will pop into my head in conversation, and since Google Reader has excellent search, (most of the bugs having been fixed since 2007) I can usually go back and find what I was thinking of.  Sometimes I joke that I’ve never known so little about such a wide range of topics in my whole life.

In Firefox, look for the orange RSS icon on the right hand side of the address bar.  When the site that you’re reading has an RSS feed, the icon appears and has a menu you can use to subscribe to the feed in your reader of choice.  Most major internet sites now provide RSS feeds.

Happy surfing!

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Tags vs Categories

Here’s a resource I wanted to share during today’s WordPress training, explaining the difference between categories and tags: http://en.blog.wordpress.com/2007/09/22/tags-and-categories/

“As best as I can explain it, categories are things you create ahead of time and only have a few of. Imagine them like sections of your site. The signs on aisles of grocery stores. Tags are one-off keywords attached to a post. You may add a tag to a post that you’ll never use ever again. Categories are meant to be permanent, tags are ephemeral.” – Matt Mullenweg, WordPress Author

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Great Examples of Teacher Blogs

As you might be wondering how other teachers in the world use blogs to communicate with students and parents, here are some real world examples.  Take a look at how much content they have.  See how they categorize posts and pages on their site.  See what kind of media they include in their posts.

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Post like no one’s watching

From Eric Florenzano:

Whenever I tell people that I’m participating in this blog post per day event, most people begin laughing hysterically. Then the next thing that people typically do, unprompted, is to start making excuses as to why they don’t blog. Most of the time it is something like, “I don’t feel like I have anything important to say,” and sometimes it’s more like “I tried it but nobody was reading it, so I gave up.” These are valid reasons why someone shouldn’t blog.

But you shouldn’t make those excuses, and you should blog anyway.

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